Meredith under the cool LED lights, on set, in my west Austin studio.
When I talk about video to most of my peers in the business they get a "far away" look in their eyes and, when I press the subject, they rally their best undergraduate art school arguments about why still photography is different and unique. I would argue that pretty soon all photography will be just still frames from video. Of course, that's a bit hyperbolic but the reality is that photography is being subsumed by its very simplicity and popularity while video is in a new period of ascendancy.
But after trying my hand at the "new" video I know why my peers are so resistant to this medium. It's harder to do well than still photography. Let me say that again with the appropriate emphasis in place: It's harder to do WELL than still photography. And, maybe more importantly, to do it well requires collaborating (and sharing credit with) other professionals. And that's something that many photographers are uncomfortable with or hostile to. I know I am......
But it's to be expected. We've spent our lives as loners. We intersect with the pack to hunt down assignments and get a check. The rest of the time we're experimenting in our caves....I mean studios....and diddling the dials of PhotoShop. Now that our basic industry is saturated and devalued we're supposed to become part of a "team"? (Remember that there is no "I" in team so be prepared to become assimilated by the Borg.....). That, in a nutshell is why professional photographers aren't rushing to do video in droves.
I don't want to spend my life putting together crews of sound people, assistants, gaffers and grips. I don't relish spending more time with more people. What are we to do? Hmmmmm. Long pensive thoughts...
We could do what Robert Frank did in the 1950's. While the majority of photographers were anchored in their studios with 8x10 and 4x5 view cameras and a jungle of hot lights he went out into the street (without assistants or a "team") and made a new art. An art predicated on moving and seeing and capturing quickly.
We don't need to emulate the evolution of the video industry. We don't need to follow the path of Phillip Bloom and Vince LaForet and embrace the way video has always been done, overlayed on a new set of tools (and let's admit that the only new thing Vince brought to the table was a new camera with better high ISO and more DOF control.....). I can choose to implement a newer "snapshot" style that steals from all the good disciplines while maintaining the autonomy that I think many photographers have always subconsciously or consciously chosen for ourselves. A new style of moving pictures.
I think about this because I just handed my son, Ben, another still digital camera to use. He's been using a Canon SX10 and I don't think he's ever taken a still image with it. I handed it to him a few years ago and the first question out of his mouth was, "Will it do video?" He and his friends have produced dozens and dozens of finished, edited videos with that camera.
I handed him a Canon SX20 yesterday and the first question he asked me was, "Does it do better video?" Yes. It does HD. Will he take a still frame with the camera? Doubtful. Will he use the hell out of it? You bet. The batteries are already on the charger.
Ben and his friends are part of the generation in which all media moves. All media, all moving, all the time. He's in ninth grade and one of the courses he's taking is film making. The school is teaching the students in his film making class how to use Final Cut Pro. As a veteran user of iMovie, Ben is incredibly comfortable with the process. And the visual communicators of his generation will be as well.
I want to continue to wring out every good still picture I can out of photography. But, to paraphrase the English poet, Andrew Marvell, "O'er my shoulder I do hear video's winged chariot drawing near...."
Time to become multi-disciplinary in a new way.
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